A Japanese researcher claims he has figured out how to read minds. Sort of. A new study shows it’s possible to identify what word a person is thinking about by looking at their brainwaves. So far, the study has only mapped waveforms for three words, but the ability to ‘read’ a person’s thoughts in this way marks a breakthrough that could lead to more exciting developments in medical technology down the road.
Professor Toshimasa Yamazaki of the Kyushu Institute of Technology has led a team of researchers to develop a scientific method for reading minds for some time. In his latest endeavor, the researcher claims he has discovered the relationship between sound waves made by speech and the brainwaves created before a person opens their mouth. This revelation, he says, makes it possible to know what someone is thinking.
Yamazaki conducted a study involving several groups of people, varied in gender and age. He had the participants recite particular words in Japanese – “goo,” “scissors” and “par.” Those words were selected because of the similarities in the brain activity they produced, both when spoken and left unsaid. The research team used an electroencephalography (EEG) to measure changes in the electrical activity in the Broca’s area of the brain’s frontal lobe, which is responsible for language. This enabled the researchers to ‘see’ the words the study participants were thinking two seconds before the words escaped their lips.
Thanks to Hollywood, mind reading is often made out to be a terrifying ability. Yamazaki and his team believe it can be used to help people, though. They are continuing to improve their methods so they can ‘read’ entire words and sentences, with the hope this breakthrough can someday be used to assist people with disabilities or perhaps even enable mute people to ‘speak’ using their minds.
I’m not wearing any EEG equipment but I wonder what Yamazaki would say if he could read my thoughts right now.